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Film review: The Brand New Testament

We review the new release from director Jaco Van Dormael, starring Catherine Deneuve

by Danielle Woodward

A wonderfully kooky, visually poetic and charming tale in the best tradition of French-language films (think Amelie and The Artist), in this fairytale-like story, God is alive and living in Brussels; he bullies his wife and daughter, and takes pleasure in controlling mankind from his computer, inventing rules to make people’s lives difficult. We all know about his son ‘JC’, but not much about his daughter, who is 10 years old and called Ea.

One day, Ea stands up to her father, hacks his computer and sends everyone in the world a text message with the date of their own death. Ea then escapes (through a washing machine) and looks for six new apostles to write a ‘brand new testament’. She chooses ordinary people with typical tales of love, loss, pain and joy, and we watch them all transform as they meet Ea, and each other.

With intelligent satire and touching moments, this film has a deeper message exploring female empowerment and ideals, asking the question, what if there was a Goddess before the tyrannical God took over? And what if she was in charge again?